Part Fourteen (of 22 ) – Lakshana Granthas
1.1. As said before, the evolution of Music of India in all its forms, including the sacred music, art music, dance music, opera, instrumental music and other recognized forms (Gita prabandha, Vadya prabandha, Nritya prabandha and Lakshana prabandha) is a long process spread over many centuries. It took a long time for music to come to its present-day form. What we have today is the result of a long unbroken tradition and the fruit of accumulated heritage of centuries, stretching from the notes (Svara) of Sama-gana to the Mela-kartas of Govindacarya.
1.2. What is remarkable about the Music of India is its systematic way of developing musical thinking that aimed to organize and arrive at a golden mean between melody (Raga) ,the structure of the compositions (Sahitya) and the rhythm (Taala) . This has lent our music an inner-strength and an identity of its own.
1.3. There followed a very long period stretching over a thousand years – from Natyashatra to Chaturdandi prashika – which produced most wonderful texts providing substance , structure and a sense of identity to what we now call as Classical Music. These texts on Samgita-shastra (Musicology), classified as Lakshana-granthas, brought together the various strands of the past Music traditions; established a sound theoretical basis for the structural framework Music, its related issues and practice. Each genre of these texts also provided a model for the subsequent treatises to elaborate on music-theories and practices (Samgita Shastra).
1.4. The authors of ancient Indian musical texts seemed to be concerned with precise ways to describe Music as it should be; how it should be taught, learnt and performed; and, how it should be experienced and enjoyed. It was an evolutionary process cascading towards greater sophistication.
The Samgita shastra was at once the theory that laid down concepts and rules to be brought into practice; and it was also the practice that remodeled the theory. It was a two-way mode of progression. It was said: Shastram iti shaasanopaayam. The Shastra was not merely a theory but it was also a tool (upaya) for perfecting the Vidya. The theory (lakshana) had to have a purpose or a target (lakshya). The test of a theory was in its application, Viniyoga.
1.5. The Lakshan-granthas, the text lying down theoretical aspects of Music, authored by various musician-scholars, are the fruits of their systematic study of the art-forms as they existed in the past and as it was practiced during their times. The texts also projected their vision of how the Music should develop and prosper in future. Thus, the Lakshana-granthas over the centuries have defined, protected and guided the Music of India.
Though the forms and formats of Music over the centuries changed to suit their adopted environments, the essential principles behind the Music have remained true and lasting. Like in other Indian traditions, continuity and change go hand in hand in Music. That happy union, I reckon, is mainly due to the brilliant series of Lakshana-granthas.
Before we go on to the notable among the texts of ancient and medieval India that deal with Music, briefly lets briefly look at Naradiya Shiksha perhaps the oldest of Music-texts.
- Naradiya Shiksha
Shiksha is a branch of Veda lore (vedanga); and, it deals with elements of chanting and phonetics. According to Taittereya Upanishad (1. 2), the elements of chanting includes six factors: Varna (syllable); Svara (accent or note); Maatra (duration); Balam (articulation or stress); Sama (even tone) and Santana (continuity). The first four deal with correct pronunciation of individual syllables; and the last two with the recitation of the entire line or the verse.
Om̃ śīkṣāṃ vyākhyāsyāmaḥ । varṇaḥ svaraḥ । mātrā balam । sāma santānaḥ । ityuktaḥ śīkṣādhyāyaḥ ॥ ॥
Briefly, Varna is the correct pronunciation of every isolated syllable, combination of consonants and ovals and compound letters. Svara is how a syllable has to be pronounced in one of the three accents (udatta, anudatta and svarita). Maatra is the time duration for pronouncing a syllable. There are of four types: hrasva– a short one – duration for short ovals; dhirga – two unit-duration for long vowels; plutam- longer than two–unit duration; and, the fourth is ardha- maatra, half unit, meant for consonants not accompanied by vowels.
Some of the well-known Shiksha texts are: Paniniya, Yagnyvalkya, Vashisthi, Katyayani, Manduki and Naradiya. The last one is associated with Sama Veda.
Naradiya Shiksha, composed, for the most part, in the Anustubh Chhandas; and based, mainly in the theories and practices of singing Sama Veda, is an ancient text that deals mainly with the musical notes and the pronunciation of the words in the Vedic language. It is regarded as an authentic source of references on the development of Indian Music from the Vedic times to the period of the Shiksha literature. The Naradiya Shiksha, is believed to pre-date Bharatha’s Natyashastra (second century BCE). Some scholars also believe that Bharat might have been familiar with Naradiya Shiksha.
One of the reasons for that inference is that the Naradiya Shiksha discusses the Gāndhāra Grāma, its Mūrchanas and Tānas; but, by the time of Bharata’s Natyashastra, the Gandhara Grama had become obsolete. Further, it is believed that a verse of the Natyashastra seems to reflect verse (1.3.13) of Nāradiya-śhíkṣhā, which, in effect, says:
Those well versed in musical art, appreciate melodious and tuneful singing (sama); the scholars look for clear pronunciation of the words (pada) of the song; the women love the sweetness of voice of the singers; and, the rest demand a loud, full-throated singing. (33. 227)
It is also said; one couplet in Patanjali’s Maha-bhashya (dated around 200 BCE) closely resembles the one in Nāradiya-śhíkṣhā:
mantro hīnaḥ svarato varṇato vā mithyā prayukto na tam artham āha sa vāgvajro yajamānaṁ hinasti yathendraśatruḥ svarato ‘parādhāt //
A mantra which is uttered with a defective accent or bad pronunciation does not carry the proper meaning. It is a thunderbolt of speech and kills the yajamāna (sponsor of the Yajna) just as it was done by the wrong accent of (the compound) ‘indra-śatruḥ’.
The opening phrase of the relevant verse in Patanjali appears as ‘dṛṣṭaḥ śabdaḥ ‘in place of ‘mantro hīnaḥ’ in the Naradiya Shiksha
For these and other reasons, the Naradiya Shiksha is considered to be a text that is not later than 200 B.C. Some scholars assign this Shiksha-text a much earlier period.
Apart from discussing the system of music (Svaramandala) of his times, in terms of Svara, Grama, Grama-ragas, Murchanas, Tanas, sthana (registers), Jati-srutis etc , Narada in his Shiksha gives information about the ten different methods of singing (gunavrittis) according to different Vedic recessions; and, ten desired qualities of a good singing (dasha-vidha gunavram). Narada also introduces number of interesting concepts and notions with regard to music, such as: associating each Svara with a color or with a god or with other beings. The text attempts to derive each Svara from the sounds made by a bird or an animal. It visualizes the origination and the placement of Svaras in different parts of the human body. The text suggests, based on Sama Gana, the ways to intonate the Svaras with the help of fingers of the right-hand. The text also offers some details about the string instruments (Veena) like Daravi and Gatra, which were used in the Samagana and Gandharva -gana.
Further, apart from specifying the charecteristics of correct and melodious singing, the text also suggests the ways and the disciplines needed to improve the singer’s voice-culture.
But, its most significant contribution that has vitalized Indian Music is that of aligning the Vaidika (Sama) and the Laukika – Flute (Venu) Svaras; and, rearranging the Sama svaras of the descending order into ascending order of the Laukika svaras as we know it today.
It is said; in the beginning, the (Rig) Vedic priests used only three notes called Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita. It is explained that Udatta meant the highest Svara, acutely accented (uchchaih); Anudatta, was the lower, gravely accented (nichaih) ; and Svarita was the summation of the two, with Udatta in the first-half. It is called a circumflex-ed accent.
The singers of the Sama Veda discovered some more notes and extended the range from three Svaras (Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita) to seven Svaras.
Narada (NarS 1.1.12) identifies the seven Sama Svaras (Vaidika) as: Prathama; Dvitiya, Triya; Chaturtha; Mandra; Krusta; and Atisvara.
And then, he correlates the Sama Svaras used by the Saman singers with the notes of the flute (Venu) – according to the Laukika music (NarS 1.5.1).
He says: Prathama, the first Svara of the Saman singers is the Madhyama Svara of the Venu (flute); Dvitiya, the second, is Gandhara; Tritiya, the third, is traditionally the Rsabha; Chaturtha, the fourth, is said to be Shadja; Panchama, the fifth, is Dhaivata; Sasta, the sixth, is considered to be Nishadha; Saptama, the seventh, is the Panchama.
Yo Samaganam prathamah sa venur Madhyamah Svarah / yo dvitiyah sa Gandharas, trias tu Rsabhah smrtah // Chaturthah Shadja ity ahuh Panchama Dhaivato bhavet / sastho Nishadho vijneyah, saptamah Panchama cmrtah // NarS 1.5.1//
[ The fifth, sixth and the seventh Svaras of the traditional Vaidika music are also indicated by names: Mandra, Atisvarya and Krusta. These correspond to Dhaivata, Nishadha and Panchama of the Venu Svaras]
Narada offers an explanation that from the ancient Udatta the Svaras Nishada (Ni) and Gadhara (Ga) were derived; from Anudatta, the Svaras – Rsbha (Ri) and Dhaivata (Dha); and, from Svarita emerged three Svaras: Shadja (Sa), Madhyana (Ma) and Panchama (Pa).
udātte niṣāda gāndhārāva anudātte ṛṣabha dhaivato / svarita prabhavā hyete ṣadja madhyama pañcamāḥ //
Swami Prajnanananda in his A History of Indian Music remarks that Narada has rendered a valuable service to the music world, by discovering a connecting link between the tonal pitches of seven tones of both Vaidika and Laukika music. He has said that the pitch-value of the tone, prathama of the Vedic music is equal to that of the tone, madhyama of the Laukika music; and in this way, it can be shown that the tones, prathama, dvitiya, tritiya, chaturtlha, panchama, shastha or atisvarya and saptama or krusta are equivalent in their sound values to those of the tones, madhyama, gandhdra, rishabha, shadja, dhaivata, nishada and panchama of the Laulika music.
Thus, the Naradiya Shiksha relates the Sama Svaras to the notes on the flute (Venu) as: Ma, Ga, Ri, Sa, Dha, Ni, and Pa.
|Sama Svara||Venu Svara|
But, the Sama Svaras were of Nidhana prakriti or Vakragati, arranged in a diminishing order, following Avaroha karma, a descending order (uttarottaram nicha bhavanthi). The order of the Svaras in Sama-music was: Ma, Ga, Ri, Sa, Ni, Dha, and Pa.
Since the Sama notes were in a descending order there was not much flexibility in music.
Naradiya Shiksha redefined the concepts and terms of the Sama Gana. It revised and recast the descending order of the Sama scales into the natural ascending order – Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni – as we are familiar with it today.
Because of that re-orientation of the Sama scales a well-structured system of music could be erected and developed during the later ages.
This, surely, is one of the most significant contribution of the Naradiya Shiksha to the growth and vitality of Indian Music in all its forms.
Naradiya Shiksha (1.5.3; 1.5.4) explains that each Sama-svara was derived from the sounds made by a bird or an animal in its appropriate season. For instance; the peacock’s cry was Shadja (Sa); the bulls roar was Rishabha (Ri); sheep-goat bleat was Gandhara (Ga); kraunchaka’s (heron) cry was Madhyama (Ma); koel’s (cuckoo) melodious whistle was Panchama (Pa); the neigh of the horse was Dhaivata (Dha); elephant’s trumpet was Nishadha (Ni). Please see the table below.
Shadjam vadati mayuro, gavo rambanti ca Rsabham / ajavike tu Gandharam, kraunco vadati Madhyamam // pushasaddarane kale kokilo vakti Panchamam / avas tu Dhaivatam vakti, Nishadam vakti Kujarah // NarSh 1.5.3-4 //
The peacock cries Shadja; the bulls moo Rsabha; the she-goat and the sheep Gandhara; the curlew cries Madhyama. And, in the spring time, the cuckoo calls Panchama; the horse produces Dahaivata; and, the elephant, the Nishadha
[ Note: Here, Narada has named the Laukika Svaras, and as compared to the Svaras of the Saman, they correspond as: Madhyama = Prathama; Gandhdra, = Dvitiya; Rishabha= Tritiya; Shadja = Chaturtha; Dhaivata = Mandra; Nishada=Atisvarya; and, Panchama= krusta.]
|Name in Sama Music||Symbol||Sama Veda Svara||Bird/animal
Narada (NarS. 1.5. 7-11) explains how and why the five Svaras – Shadja, Rsabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, and Panchama– came to be named as such .
Shadja (Sa): Because, it is situated in the nose, the throat, the chest, the palate, the tongue and the teeth; and, because it springs from these six , it is traditionally called Shadja.
Nasam, kantham, uras, talu jihvam, dantams cha samsritah / sadbhih sanjayate yasmath tasmath Shadja iti smrtah //
Rsabha (Ri): Because, the air, rising from the navel and striking the throat and the head, roars like a bull, it is called Rsabha.
Vayuhu samutthito nabheh kantha-sirasa samahath / nardaty Rsbhavad yasmath tasmath Rsbha ucyate //
Gandhara (Ga): Because, the air, rising from the navel and striking the throat and the head, blows smells to the nose and is delicious; for that reason it is called Gandhara.
Vayuhu samutthito nabheh kantha-sirasa samahath / nasam gandhavah punyo gandharas ten hetuna//
Madhyama (Ma): Because, the essence of the Madhyama is in the air, which rising from the navel, striking the chest and the heart, reaches the navel as abig sound.
Vayuhu samutthito nabhir urohrdi samahath / nabhim prapto mahanado madhyamavatam samasrute //
Panchama (Pa) : Because, the air , which rising from the navel and striking the chest, the heart, the throat and the head springs from these five places , is accounted to be the essence of Panchama
Vayuhu samutthito nabhir urohrtkantha-sirohatah / panchastsnotthitasyasya panchamatvam vidhiyate //
Naradiya Shiksha (NarS.1.5.5-6) mentions several parts of the human body in as origins of the seven svaras on the scale:
Shadja springs from the throat; Rsabha springs from the head; Gandhara from the nose; Madhyama svara from the chest; and. Panchama svara springs from the chest, the head and the throat; Dhaivata from the forehead. As regards Nishadha, it springs from the combination of all parts of the body.
Kanthad uttisthate Sadjah; Sirasas iv Rsabha smftah / Gandhars iv anunasikya; uraso Madhyama svarah / lalatad Dhaivatam vidyan Nishadam sarva-sandhijam
The Naradiya shiksha, following the practice of the Saman singers’ intonation of the musical Svaras they were singing, mentions the positions of the Svaras on fingers of the right hand. As for example:
Krusta (Panchama) is situated on the top of the thumb; Prathama (Madhyama) on the thumb (Angusta); Gandhara on the index finger (Tarjani) next to the thumb; Rshabha on the next to it (Madhyama) (middle finger); Shadja on the ring finger(Anamika) next to the middle one; Daivata on the little finger(kanisthika) ; and , the top of the little finger is Nishada.
Angusthasyottame krushto angushthe tu prathamah svarah/ Pradeshinyam tu gandhara-rishabhas tadanantaram // Anamikayam shadjastu kanishthikayam cha dhaivatam | Tasya adhastat cha yo nya stu nishadam tatra nirdiset //
The thumb was made to move and touch the other fingers, and thus help the singers to sing with proper intonation.
[ Note: Here, Narada has mentioned about the Laukika Svaras: and, it should be remembered that Madhyama = Prathama; Gandhdra, = Dvitiya; Rishabha= Tritiya; Shadja = Chaturtha; Dhaivata = Mandra; Nishada=Atisvarya; and, Panchama= krusta.]
The Naradiya shiksha, also mentions the practice of the Saman singers of touching parts of the body with the fingers on the right-hand to indicate the Svaras they were singing.
The Saman singer will touch, respectively: the middle part of his head, forehead (lalata) to indicate Krusta (Panchama); the middle part of the eyebrows (Bhruvormadhye) to indicate Dvitiya (Gandhdra); the ears (Karna) to indicate Tritiya, (Rishabha); the throat (Kanta) to indicate Chaturtha(Shadja); the thigh (uru) to indicate Mandra (Dhaivata); and, the heart (hridisthanam) to indicate Atisvarya, (Nishada) .
Krustasya murdhani sthanam lalate prathamasya tu/ Bhruvormadhye dvitiyasya tritiyasya cha karnayo// Kanthasthanam chaturthasya mandrasyorasituchyate / Atisvarasya nichasya hridisthanam vidhiyate //
[ Note: Here, Narada has mentioned the Vedic Svaras of the Saman, as compared to the Laukika Svaras, and, here: Prathama =Madhyama; Dvitiya= Gandhara; Tritiya = Rishabha; Chaturtha= Shadja; Mandra= Dhaivata; Atisvarya = Nishada; and, krusta =Panchama.]
Now, the hand and finger poses (mudras) that are adopted in the religious functions (puja) and others (updsana-mudras) as well as the gestures adopted in the art of dancing (nartana-mudras), are all evolved from the Mudras employed by the Saman singers.
Naradiya Shiksha (NarS. 1.1.7) mentions three voice registers (sthanas) in connection with the recitation of the Sama Gana: chest, throat and the head are the three voice-registers (urah kanthah siras chaiva sthanani trini vanmaye)
At another place (NarS. 1.7.1-2) , Narada mentions seven registers, each one being used for each of the seven notes (svara) of the Sama Gana (head, forehead, between eyebrows, ears, throat, chest and in the heart-region).
While listing the seven registers, Narada mentions the Vedic Svaras, as: the registers of Krusta (i.e. the Panchama of the Laukika) is the head; of Prathama (Madhyama) in the forehead; of Dvitiya (Gandhara) between the eyebrows; of Triya (Rsabha) in the ears; of Chaturtha (Shadja) in the throat; of Mandra (Dhaivata) in in the chest; of the low Atisvara (Nishadha) in the heart region.
(The Laukika Svaras are given within brackets, for reference).
Krustasya murchani sthanam lalate prathamasya tu / bhrur-madhye dvitiyasya; tritiyasya tu karanayoh / kanthasthanam chatturtasya; mandrasyo urah utcyate / atisvarasya nicasya hrdi sthanam vidhiyate //
Naradiya Shiksha (NarS. 1. 5. 13-14) associates the Svaras with certain gods and with Gandharvas – Narada and Tauburu; and says: The Shadja svara (Sa) is sung by Agni; Rsabha (Ri) is uttered by Brahma; Gandhara (Ga) is sung by Soma; the Madhyama svara (Ma) is sung by Vishnu; the Panchama svara (Pa) is sung by Narada the great person (mahatmana); the Dhaivata and Nishadha are sung by Tumburu
Agni gitah svarah Shadja; Rsabho Brahmanoyate / Somena gito Gandharo, Vishnur Madhyamah svarah // Panchamo tu svaro gito Naradena mahatmana / Dhaivatas cha Nisadas cha gitau Tumburuna svarau //
According to Naradiiya Shiksha (NarS. 1.7.6-8), the gods live on the Svara Krusta (=Panchama); human beings on Prathama (=Madhyama); cattle on Dvitiya (=Gandhara); the Gandharvas and Apsaras on the next note (Triya= Rishabha); the birds (Andaja – others born from an egg) and the Pitris (ancestors) on Chaturtha (= Shadja); the Pisachas (goblins), Asuras and Rakshasas (demons) on Mandra; and, the others on Atisvara (= Nishada).
According to (NarS. 1.2.15), the Shadja delights the gods (Devanam); Rsabha the seers (Rshinam); Gandhara the Pitris (Pitrnam); Madhyama the Gandharvas (Gandharvanam); Nishadha, the Yakshas (Yakshanam); Dhaivata the other living beings(Praninam)
In the Naradiya Shiksha (NarS. 1.4.1), the Svaras are also said to be related to certain colors. It says: Shadja has a reddish colour like lotus; Rsabha has a reddish – yellow color like a parrot; Gandhara is gold colored; Madhyama is colored like jasmine; Panchama has a bluish-black color; Dhaivata is said to be yellow; and, Nishadha has all colors. These are the colors of the Svaras.
Padma-patra prabhah Shadja, Rsabhah sukapinjarah / kanakabhas tu Gandharo, Madhyamah kundasaprabhah // Panchama tu bhavet Krishna pilakam , Daivtam viduh / Nishadah sarvavarnas tu ity etah svaravarnatah // NarS 1.4.1
As regards other music-terms and their concepts:
Narada in his Shiksha talks about the system of music (Svaramandala) of his times, in terms of Svara; Grama, Murchanas and Tanas. He mentions the number of Svaras as seven; Gramas as three; Murchanas as twentyone; and, the Tanas as fortynine.
Sapta-svaras; trayo grama; murcchanat ekavimshatih | Tana ekonapanchashadityetat – svaramandalam
Narada mentions the Svaras as seven –Svara saptaka. And, he defines Svara as: that which is pleasant to be heard, that which is sweet and of a pleasing character ; that which spontaneously charms the mind of the listener is called Svara.
Srutyanantarabhavi yah snigda anur anandatmakah / svato rajayati srotrcittam sa svara ucyate.
Narada mentions the three Gramas as Shadja, Madhyama and Gandharva; and, each Grama as having seven Murchanas (a total of 21 Murchanas – (NarS.188.8.131.52); and, states their origin as: The Earth for Shadja grama; the intermediate space (atmosphere) for Madhyama grama; and, heaven for Gandhara grama. It also mentions that Gandhara grama is only in heaven (svarga); and, is not found anywhere else. (It does not elaborate on the Gandhara grama)
Shadja- Madhyama-Gandharas trayo gramah parkirtitah / bholokad jayate Shadjo; bhuvar lokac cha Madhyamah// svargan nanyatra Gandharo //
Nardiya shiksha (NarSM. 1.1.49) explains the Grama by comparing it to Murchana (Gramah svara-samuhah syan Murchana tu svarasraya).
According to the renowned shcolar Shri M S Ramaswami Aiyar (The Question of Gramas – JRAS, 1936, p.632 ) : Grama is described as a group of scales consisting all the Shuddha and Vikrta svaras, collected together; and, preserved for the purpose of selecting, from that group scale, any desired set of seven svaras with a Graha, the starting point – which set , when sung in the natural order of ascent and descent was called as Murchanas ; and, which when a harmonic individuality was established with the help of Amsa , Nyasa, Vadi and Samvadi etc took the name of Jati.
And another version says: A Grama is a collection of svaras; a Murchana is closely connected with or based upon the svaras (Gramah svara-samuhah syan Murchana adi samashrayah)
Kallinatha (15th century), commenting upon this line, explains: ‘the word – adi (meaning etc)’ is meant to indicate the regular order (krama) of svaras, series of svaras (Taana), ornamentation (Varna), grace (Alamkara) and mode (Jati) ‘- atra adi shabdena karma Taana – Varna -Alamkara- Jati adyayo grahyante.
Murchana was described as the elaboration of the closely connected series of Svaras (kramayutah) in their proper (krama) ascending and descending forms. Each type of Murchana was said to possess its own special aesthetic merit. It was said; the set of Murchanas related to Gandharva Grama were meant to please Devas; and, the other two to please Pitris and Rishis. Though Narada mentioned the Gandharva grama, yet it had become obsolete during his time; and, Bharata too did not mention about it in the Natyashastra.
Matanga also explains Murchana as: the ascent and descent of the seven svaras in a regular order is called Murchana (Kramadi svaranam saptanam arohas cha avarohanam / murcchanady ucyate). That is to say; Murchana is something more than the scale; because, it enhances the quality of the Jati (melody-types of the recognised kind).
Nardiya shiksha (NarS. 1.2.4-9) mentions 21 Murchanas which can be divided into three Gramas.
The seven Murchanas of Gandhara grama are said to belong to the gods (Devanam) : Nandi, Visala, Sumukhi, Chitra, Chitravati, Sukha, and Balaya;
the other seven Murchanas of the Madhyama grama are said to belong to the ancestors (Pitrnam) : Apayini, Visvabhrta, Chandra, Hema , Kapardini, Maitri , and Barhati (Chandramasi) ;
and , the next seven Murcahnas called Laukika or common are said to belong to Seers (Rishi) : Uttaramandra, Abhirudgata, Asvakranta, Uttarayata, Rajani, Sauvira and Hrsyaka .
[ The Ṣaḍja Grāma gaves rise to seven Mūrchanās such as Uttara-maudrā, Rajanī, Uttarāyatā, Śuddhaṣaḍjā, Matsarīkṛtā, Aśvakrāntā and Abhirudgatā
The Madhyama Grāma gave rise to seven Mūrchanās: Sauvīrī, Hariṇāśvā, Kalopanatā, Śuddhamadhyā, Mārgavī, Pauravī and Hṛṣyakā.
The Gāndhāra Grāma also gave rise to seven Mūrchanās. But, since this Grāma had become obsolete at the time of the Natya Śhastra, their name were not mentioned.]
According to Nardiya shiksha (NarS. 1.2.13) the Gandharvas practice the seven Murchanas of the gods (Devanam) – Upajivanti Gandharva Devanam sapta Murchanath.
The Yakshas practice the seven Murchans of the ancestors (Pitrnam) – Pitrnam Murchanadh sapta tatha Yaksha na samsayah.
And, the seven Murchanas of the Seers (Rishi) are in common practice – Risinam Murchanah sapta yas tv ima laukikah smrtah.
Narada arranges the the third set of Murchanas – that is of the Rishis in ascending order: Uttaramandra stands on Shadja; Abhirugata on Rsabha; Asvakranta on Gandhara; Suvira on the Madhyama; Hrsyaka on Panchama; Uttarayata on Dhaivata; and, from Nishada one knows Rajani.
[ Bharata’s enumeration of the third set of Murchans varies slightly from that of Narada; and is also arranged in a descending order.
Though Narada talked about twenty-one Murchanas, Bharata mentions fourteen (dvai gramikshcha- turdasha). And, by different arrangements of seven Svaras (sa ni dha pa ma ga ri), a total of 84 (7 X 12=84) variations of Murcchanas might have evolved.
Matanga in his Brihaddeshi, said, Murchana was of two kinds: one, having 7 Svaras; and the other, having 12 Svaras (Sa murcchana dvivida; sapta-svara-murcchana, dvadasha-svara-murcchana chcti).
[ However, the Murhcana of 12 svaras had gone out of practice even before the time of Sarangadeva.]
And, the Murchana with 7 Savras was further divided into four parts: purna, shadava, auduvita, and sadhdrana. The purna or heptatonic contained seven svaras; shadava, the hexatonic, six svaras; auduvita, petnatonic, panchama, five svaras; and, the sadhdranahad two displaced (vikrita) svaras – antara-gandhara and kakali-nishada.
The Murcchana with 12 tones manifested in three registers (sthana), low, medium and high (mandra, madhya and tara).]
Narada has mentioned six Grama-ragas like Shadava, Panchama, Madhyama-grama, Shadja-grama, Kaishika and Kaishika-madhyama, which remained in use till about the 7th century A.D.
In the ancient music theory, the function of a Varna is to manifest a song; and, therefore, it is known as the Ganakriya. The Varna is said to be of four kinds: arohi, avarohi, sthayi and sanchari. Different alamkaras evolved from those four Varnas. Now, from the arohi-Varna evolved 12 alamkaras (varnalamkara) such as, vistirna, nishkarsha (together with its gatravarna), bindu, etc. From the avarohi and sthayi varnas similar alamkaras evolved; and, from the sancharivarnas evolved 25 alamkaras.
The relation between the Srutis and the intervals (svara) is a very important aspect of the theory of the ancient Indian music.
The Nardiya shiksha also describes five Jati-srutis (parent sruties) like dipta (excited, bright, radiant); ayata (extended, broad, wide); mridu (soft, tender, mild, gentle); Madhya (central, proper tolerable, middling); and, karuna (sympathetic, compassionate, tenderness, merciful).
Narada remarks: One who does not know the distinctions of the Sruti such as Dipta, Ayata, Karuna, Mrudu, and Madhyama, is no teacher at all.
Dipta, ayata, karunanam mrudu, madhyamayos tatha srutinam yo visesajno na sa acharya ucyate (NarS. 1.7.9)
Bharata, later arranged twenty-two Srutis on the basis of five parent shrutis as indicated by Narada: tivra; kumudavati; manda; chandovati; and, dayavati, which were termed as Jatis or Adhara or parent Srutis.
And much later, Sarangadeva (1.3.27) lists the names of these twenty-two varieties (vidha) of the five parent Srutis:
Tivra; Kumudvati; Manda; Chandovati; Dayavati; Ranjati; Ratika; Raudri; Kroda; Vajrika; Prasarini; Priti; Marjani; Ksiti; Ratika; Samdipani; Alapini; Madntika; Rohini; Ramya; Ugra; and Kshobini.
[ In the Naradiya Shiksha, the Sruti is taken as a subtle sound. It explains , just as fire remains in the wood, ghee remains in the curd, Sruties remain in the Svaras.
However, there are discussions on the authenticity of the twentytwo Surtis; Some say that Sruti is but a theoretical concept. And, Srutis could be any number; not merely twenty-two. It is only talked about in the older texts. But, among the practicing muscians of the present day, ‘Sruti; just denotes ‘pitch’; and ‘off Sruti’ means that one is ‘out of tune’. The term Adhara Sruti refers to the pitch which a performer has chosen as the most apt and convenient for his voice, instrument or the song he is just about to render. Quite often, even the raga-s have their notes established on sruit-s, rather than the usual notes
But, Dr. Vinod Vidwan , in his scholarly research paper , on the basis of the research and experiments he conducted , asserts that the five types of shrutis mentioned in Naradiya Shiksha and their applications; as also, Bharata’s `Shruti Nidarshanam’ experiment is a conclusive proof of the equal temperament twenty two shrutis .]
In the Nardiya shiksha ( III. 8), Narada said that 20 Tanas, series of notes which formed the basis for various musical forms., are evolved from the Madhyama Grama; 14 from the Shadja Grama; and, 15 from the Gandhdra Grama; that is atotal of 49 Tanas.
Though Narada mentions Gandhara Grama , it had gone out of use by the time of Bharata. However , Pundarika Vittala , in his Ragamanjari , makes a mention of two types of Gandhara Grama – one according to Yastika ; and , the other as mentioned by Sarangadeva. For more please check here.
[ But, during Bharata’s time, 84 Taanas were evolved (chaturashiti NS. 28.33). Bharata states that Taanas depend on the Murchanas. In Murchana all the seven svaras should be in krama – aroha/avaroha. In Taana, the svaras can be in any order. The Taanas which depend on the Murcchanas are eightyfour in number. (Tatra Murcchanad samsritas Taanas chaturasitih / tatra ekona pancha sat svarah, pancha trimsat panchasvarah – NS 28.36)
According to Bharata, these 84 Taanas comprised 49 Taanas with six svaras; and 35 Tanas with five svaras. And, it was said; besides these, there exist Tanas with 7 itones (sampurna-tana). Bharata also talked about the Taanas, as applicable to musical instruments (veena, etc.), and they were divided into pravesha (low or soft) and nigraha (touch).
And, Dattila said that besides the simple Taanas, there evolved gradually thousands of intricate or kitta tanas in the later period, from different methods of plucking the strings of ‘the musical instruments like veena, etc (krama-niutsrijya tantrikam). ]
[ According to some texts (Samavidhana Brahmana and Arseya Brahmana), Sama-Gana employed seven Svaras (notes): 1. Prathama; 2. Dvitiya; 3. Tritiya; 4. Chaturtha; 5. Panchama or Mandra (low); 6. Shasta or Krusts (high); and, Antya or Atiswara (very high). ]
Please also check the article on Gandharva for more on Taana]
There is also a brief description of the string instruments (Veena) like Mahati, Daravi and Gatra, which were used in the Samagana and Gandharva -gana.
Daravi gatra-veena cha dve veene gana-jatisu | Samiki gatra-veena tu tasyah shrinuta lakshanam [ | Gatra-veena tu sa prokta yasyam gayanti samagah|
It is said that the Gatra-veena possessed a gourd and a wooden stem, having five or six or seven gut strings for tones. It used to be played by holding it in a recumbent position, with the help of the fingers; and, was used to be placed on the thighs of the player. Narada gives a description of the method of playing the Veena.
Narada (NarS.1.6.5) while explaining the Gatra Veena, which accompanies the singing of the Saman, says: Gatra Veena is furnished with notes and ornamentation (svara vyapti janasmyukta) ; and, by playing with with all the fingers stretched, one should be able to produce the range of notes – prasarya cha angulih sarva ropayet svaramandalam.
Narada has mentioned about the ten different methods of singing (gunavrittis) according to different Vedic recensions. He also enumerates ten factors that enhance the quality of rendering of the songs (Gitis ) – (dasha-vidha gunavram); and, emblish the compositions (sahitya) as well as the melodies of the songs – both Vaidika and Laukika – like raktam, purnam, alamkritam, prasannam, vyaktam, vikrusfiam, shlaknam, samam, sukumaram and madhuram,
Raktham, purnam, alamkritam, prasannam, vyktam, vikrustam, shlaknam, saman, skumaram, madhuram iti gunah //
These are the ten good qualities with regard to the performance of a song (gita-guna), namely: harmonious (surakta), complete (purna), ornate (alamkrit), clear (Prasanna), distinct (vyakta), evocative (vikrusta ) , smooth (slaksna) , even (sama), lovely and delicate ( sukumara), and charming (madhura) .
Narada also offers explantions for each of the said ten qualities of good rendering of a song.
Raktham: This is called Rakta (harmonious) because of the harmony of notes (svaras) of both flute (Venu) and lute (Veena) with the singer – tatra raktam nama venu veena svaranam ekhibhave raktam ity ucyate
Purnam: Purnam stands for completeness. That is called Purna; because, it contains in itself all the notes (Svaras), Srutis and combines with the Chhandas (meters) , lines of the verse (Pada) and syllables ( akshara); and , all these are clearly and completely pronounced – Purnam nama svar sruti purna chandah pada aksharam yogyat purnam ity ucyate.
Alamkrit: It is Alamkarta, when the song is ornate (alamkrtam) with the beauty of the three voice-registers (sthana) emanating from singes’s chest, head and the throat; appropriately producing the high, low and mid notes as required – alankrtam namorasi sirsi kanthayuktam ity alamkrtam
Prasanna: Prasannam is that which is uttered without stammering and understood with clarity (prakatartham) – Prasannam nama vagat agadagada nirvitiankam prasannam ity ucyate
Vyakta: it is Vyakta (distinct) , when the text (patya) with its syllables, grammer, tense, gender, vibhakti etc are clearly pronounced; and, the listener understands it properly – Vyaktam jneyam ativyaktaih prakripratyayaksaaih
Vikrusta: It is evocative. The lyrics sung in fast, medium and slow speeds , should be pronounced loudly and clearly – vikrustam ucchairuccarad drute Madhya vilambite
Slaksnam: The term Salkhana means a collection of high and low plutas (elongated syllables of three matras or time-units) in a quick and not in slow speed with hela ( a sort of dramatic grace)and upanayana ( introduction) etc which are effective. This is called Slaksana – salaksana nama drutam avilambitam uccanicapluta samaharam helalaupanayanddibhir upapadanabhih slakshanam ity uchyate
Sama: The term Sama means even, where there is no disparity or conflict (a -vaisamya). Saman also means combination of the positions of the hand indicating the rhythym, avapa nirvapa pradesa and pratyantara – This is called Sama – Saman nama vaapanirva pradesha pratyantara sthananam ity saman uchyate
Sukumara: It is called Sukumaram, when the music is delicate (sukumara); is full of lovliness (Lavanya guna purnam); and, when the voice (gatra), flute (Venu) and the Veena are in harmony – sukumaram syad venu veena gatra dhvaniyaika yuktam
Madhura: The term madhuram means that which is abundantly endowed with natural, graceful and pleasing (manoharam) words, syllables and merit (guna) – Madhuram nama svabhavopanita Lalita pada akshara guna samruddham madhuram ity ucyate
Bharata follows the explantions offered by Narada; and, in his Natyashastra 32.492 , mentions the desired qualities of a song-rendering. In his list, Bharata included Six of the qualities mentioned by Narada (NarS .1.3.1 )- ( viz. purna, rakta, sama, slaksna, alamkrita and madhura ).
According to Bharata:
That which fully includes the svaras, varnas; and, is emblished by instruments, relates to three voice -registers (sthana), three Yatis (speeds) , three matras ( time-units) , gives joy , is harmonious (sama) and delicate (sukumara) , contains alamkaras , is performed with ease , and has sweetness is called Gana (song) .
Purna svaram, vadya vichitra, varna tri sthanagami trilayam trimargagam / raktam sama slaksnam alamkrtam ca mukham prasastam madhuram ca ganam
And again , in Chapter 14 ; verses 75-81 of Saṅgītaśiromaṇi , a text compiled in 1468 by a group of scholars , as edited and translated by Emmie Te Nijenhuis , the qualtyies of excellent singing are summarized , based on the earlier texts .
When a song is complete in respect of its words (pada), notes (svaras), section (anga) , variations (prayoga) , melody (raga), and poetical meter (Chhandas) , it is called Purna ( complete)
When its meaning (artha) is clear (prasanna), the song is meaningful. When it fascinates the listener, it is charming (madhura).
When it is full of qualities of lovliness; and , when it is delicate (sukumara); when it is colourful in three voice-reisters (sthana), it should be regarded as ornate (alamkrita).
It is distinct (vyakta), when its syllables clearly show its basic pattern.
Harmonious (surakta) indicates that the flute (venu), the lute (veena) and the singers voice (gatra) are perfectly in tune with each other. Surakta implies that in accompaniment there are no disharmonies (vaisamyaa varjitam) with the sounds produced by the singer.
Evocative (Vikrusta) means that the song is loud in the fast, medium and slow tempos.
Smooth (slaksna) means that the melodic lines (varna) can be clearly heard in the lower as well as in the higher parts. Even (sama) means that there is no conflict (avisamya) in the melodic lines (varna), the registers (sthana) and in the speeds (laya).
These are the qualities of the good rendering of a song (iti gita-gunah).
Tatra purnam padah svarah angaih prayogaih sampurnam ragena chandsapi cha / prasannam prakatartham syan / madhram syan manoharam //
Lavanya guna purnam cha sukumaram / nu ranjakam tri-sthana sambhavam yat syat tad vijneyam alamkritam//
Vyaktam jneyam ativyaktaih prakripratyayaksaaih/ sukumaram syad venu veena gatra dhvaniyaika yukta //
Suraktam yatra gatrottha dhvani vaisamyaa varjitam / vikrustam ucchairuccarad drute Madhya vilambite //
Nicoccayos cha varnanam sravyatve slaksnam ucyate / varna sthana laya adi naam avaisamye samam matam iti gita-gunah //
Narada suggests; an ardent student of music must lead a disciplined and well-regulated life; meditate at proper times. He should learn to pronounce the Mantras clearly and crisply. He recommends consumption of Tri-phala-churna (a powder) mixed with salt for digestion, memory and lucid pronunciation. He also recommends breathing in of its smoke and also have honey (Madhu). He says, for securing a clear and sweet voice and attractive teeth, one should use the slick of a mango or wood-apple. Either for learning Vedas or Music, it is essential to have clear voice, self-control, attention, sound approach. A student of Music should learn to recognize the divinity in the Svaras.
[Ref: http://www.omenad.net/page.php Dr. Lalmani Mishra ; A History of Indian Music by Swami Prajnanananda ; and, Vaidika sahithya Charithre by Dr, NS Anantharanga Char; Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music edited and translated by Emmie te Nijenhuis ]
Dattilam, believed to be the work of Dattila or Dantila or Dattilacharya, is one of the earliest works after Natyashastra. (It is otherwise an untitled treatise said to be by Dattila) .And, as it usually happens in the Indian texts, not much is known about the author of Dattilam or his period. It is surmised that Dattila was contemporary or a follower of Bharatha since Dattilam is closely connected with Natyashastra. The ancient authorities referred to in the Dattilam are Khohala, Narada and Visakhila. Dattila is counted as one among the five-Pancha Bharathas: Nandikesvara, Kohla, Dattila, Bharat and Matanga. And, the later authors of the medieval times, in turn, quote Dattilam. It is therefore surmised the Dattilam might belong to the first or second century of Common Era.
Dattilam is a fairly short text of about 244 Karikas or stanzas, spread over 12 Chapters. Judging from the brevity of its structure and its style, the scholars opine that the edition of the text that has come down to us might be an abridgement of a more extended work. The author, in fact, remarks that he will desist from discussing Veena-playing (Veena –vadana) for fear of making the treatise too lengthy. Similarly, Dattilam does not deal with dramaturgy (Nrtta, Natya), perhaps because that was dealt in the original extended work.
Dattilam takes a significant position in the history of Indian Music. It is the bridge between the Sama Gana the ritual music of Yajna , and the pious Gandharva songs, which later transformed into the Desi Sangita that has come down to us through series of transformations.
The Gandharva totally remodeled the Music structure. In the Gandharva, the original descending Sama Veda scales were recast into new ascending and descending seven Svara (note) structures. These seven notes of the Gandharva (Svara-saptaka) are in use even today.
And , therefore, as Emmie te Nijenhuis remarks : The Dattilam is a very suitable starting point for study of the Ancient Indian Music , as it is a concise compendium of almost all the Musical terms.
A major part of 244 verses of Dattilam is about Gandharva. Dattilam calls Gandharva as Avadhana, conscious (samyag baddha) melodic employment of Svara, Taala and Pada. In Verse three of the Dattilam , Gandharva is explained as a collection of notes (Svara) which is based in words (Pada- thatha–Svara sanghtah ) ; which is measured by time-units (Taala) ; and, which is performed with diligence (prayukthas savadhenena) is known by the name of Gandharva , (Gandharvam abhijayate )
Pada – thatha- Svara sanghtah Talena sumitas thatha I Prayukthas savadhenena Gandharvam abhijayate II
In verses 5 and 6 of Dattilam , the author mentions that he would cover topics such as : Sruti (micro-intervals ), Svara (notes), Grama (two-note system) , Murchana (scales) consisting series of notes (Taana) , Sthana (registers) , Vritti (styles) , pure instrumental music (Shushka) , singing along with playing (Giti), Sadharana (two ways of overlapping of notes), Varna (movement of Svaras) and Alamkara (ornamentation ) etc.
Dattilam also explains those music-terms of its period. For instance; Dattilam (9) explains Sruti as the difference in sounds (dvani visesha) produced by striking on the strings on the upper end of the Veena (Uttarottara-taras tu veenayam) and that produced by striking on the lower end (adharottarah) of the Veena . And, Abhinavagupta explains the term Sruti as the sound (sabda) produced (prabhavita) when struck at appropriate position (śruti-sthāna-abhighāta) on the Veena.
Dattilam says Svaras are seven , starting with Shadja (Dattilam .11) ; and they are of four types: Vadi (sonant); Samvadi (consonant); Anuvadi (assonant) and Vivadi (dissonant). Vadin is the note that produces the melody. As Vadin is repeated often, the other notes are used in relation to it . For instance; the two Svara-s with an interval of eight or twelve Sruti-s between them are called Samvadi of each other. Ni and Ga are Vivadi (discordant) to other Svaras. The Svara following a Vadi Svara is called Anuvadi.
Dattila explains these terms:”Vadin is the king; Samvadin is the minister who follows him; Vivadin is like the enemy who disrupts, and should be sparingly employed; and, Anuvadi denotes the retinue of follower.”
(Abhinavagupta adds a word of caution; and remarks that Dattila’s analogy just as any other analogy is rather brittle; and, should not be pressed very hard.)
Murchana is described as the ordered or the sequential arrangement of the seven Svaras. The Svaras of the Murchanas of the Shadja Grama are seven (Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni). If the commencing Svara (initial note – Graha) is changed, but the intervals between the Svara (Sruti) is kept unchanged, it then is called Graha–Bedha. It was through this method, it is said, Murchanas were derived from Gramas.
Dattilam (22-24) explains that the Murchanas of Shadja Grama are, generally, seven (Uttaramandra; Rajani; Uttara-ayata; Shuddha-Shadja; Matsarikruta; Ashvakranta; and, Abhirudgata). The Murchanas of the Madhyama Grama were also seven (Sauviri; Harinasva; Kalopanata; Shuddha-madhyama; Margi; Pauravi; and, Hrsyaka). The Murchanas of the two Gramas add up to fourteen.
Natyashastra mentions eighteen Jaati-s (melodic structure). Of these, seven are called Shuddha Jaati-s. These are the Jaati-s which have the Svaras (notes) after which they are named, such as: Graha, Amsa and Nyasa. To this, Dattila adds Apa-nyasa. The Nyasa of Shuddha Jaati is Mandra. And, the remaining ones, originating from a mixture of these (suddha jatis) are modified (vikrita).
The Shuddha–Jaati had all the seven Svaras. When any one or more of these was dropped, excepting the Nyasa (final note), the Shuddha Jaati would become Vikrta (modified). By the combination of the two or more Jaatis the eleven Samsargaja–Vikrta would be formed.
Dattilam (55) lists the ten characteristic of Jaati as: Initial note (graham), dominant (amsa), high (tara) and low (mandra) registers, hexatonic (sadava) and pentatonic (auduva) in due order, rareness (alpatva0, prevalence (bahutva), final note (nyasa) and secondary final note (apanyasa).
Then Dattilam goes on to explain:
This is the tenfold characterization of jati according to class (i.e. according to each jati). The accurate description of these ten (characteristics) will be set forth briefly.
There is the initial note (Graha), which is the starting note (adisvara) of a song. The high register (Tara) is considered to consist of five notes, rising (upwards) from the dominant.
it is recommended that in nandayanti jati the limit is not further then the dominant, with the final note as its limit, or even beyond (i.e. lower than) this one, that is the low register (mandra).
hexatonic (sadava) and pentatonic (auduva), respectively, are songs which are based on six or five notes. Rareness (alpatva) and prevalence (bahutva) depend on the rare or frequent use of certain notes.
Nyasa if the final note of a song. In the same way, the note which occirs in the middle, that is to say, in a section (vidari), as a final note, is the secondary final note (apanyasa). I will mention them according to the jatis
Verses 62-95 are about descriptions of 18 jatis.
Similarly, Natyashastra had earlier listed thirty-three types of Alamkaras. But, Dattila abridged the list to thirteen. Matanga who followed Natyashastra reckoned thirty-three Alamkaras. However, in later times the list grew up to eighty-eight types of Alamkaras.
Dattila’s list of thirteen Alamkaras , which is regarded as the basic was: 1. Prasanna-adi, begins with low note; 2. Prasanna-anta, ends with low note; 3. Prasanna-madhya, low note in the middle; 4. Prasanna-adyanta, begins and ends with low note; 5. Bindu, higher note touched like lightning; 6. Nivrtta-pravrtta, lower note touched quickly; 7. Prenkholita, even swing between two notes; 8. Tara-mandra-prasanna, gradual rise followed by sudden drop; 9. Mandra-tara-prasanna, sudden rise followed by gradual descent; 10. Sama, even ascent and/or descent; 11. Kampita, quiver in low register; 12. Harita, quiver in middle register; and, 13. Recita, quiver in high register.
Even the vocal styles were defined based on the relation between singing and playing the song on Veena. When one plays on the Veena ( following the vocal style) but without singing it is then known as Shuska or A-gita .And, when one plays on the Veena and sings the song as he plays m it is known as Giti. Abhinavagupta in his commentary explains it further, saying: every type of Giti can be played on Veena. And, there are three types of Giti: Tatva, Anugata and Ogha. When the Gana (singing) is prominent and the Veena follows Gana completely , it is Tatva; when the Veena follows Gana in some part and then shows its own craftsmanship , it becomes Anugata; and , when the playing techniques becomes A-nibaddha and the Karanas become more prominent and the Gana becomes secondary then the Giti becomes Ogha . Thus in the rendering of the Giti, Veena performs an important role.
Similarly, Murchana and Taana variations to provide pleasure to the listener as also to the performer were explained with reference to Veena. Dattilam (36) mentions about the techniques of improving Taana-s on the Veena (Taana-kriya). Dattila says: The Taana-kriya is twofold (Taana-kriya dvidha tantryam): Pravesika and Nigraha. Pravesika (entering) is raising the lower note or lowering the higher note. And, Nigraha (abstaining) is not touching the string (asamsparka tu nigrahat)
(Taana-kriya dvidha tantryam praveshena nigrahat tatha I tatra pravesho dhvanyaikyam asamsparka tu nigrahat II)
Thus, along with Natyashastra, Dattilam is a fundamental Lakshana-grantha, a text that defined and explained the theory and practice of Indian Music. It put in a clear language the concepts and terms governing the Music of its time. Though some of its terms such as Jaati, Murchana, Grama etc are no longer in use, their essential principles have percolated to the present-day through a series of transformations.
[Ref: Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music by Emmie te Nijenhuis ; and , Natalie Savelyeva http://www.natyam.ru/index.html#music ]
Brihaddeshi is another landmark text that spans the period from Natyashastra/Dattilam to Sangita-ratnakara. It carries forward the tradition of Natyashastra and Dattilam; and, at the same time , it establishes the Desi Sangita on a firm pedestal. Brihaddeshi bridges the Marga and the Desi class of Music; and, it also provides the basis for the emergence of the Mela system of classifying the Ragas. One could say; Brihaddeshi gave a new birth to Indian Music; and, revitalized its creative genius by bringing the concept of Raga into the very heart of the Music traditions and their sensibilities.
Brihaddeshi also serves as a reference to many earlier authors whose works are now lost, such as: Kashyapa, Kohala, Durgasakti, Maheshwara, Yastika, Vallabha, Vishvavasu and Shardula.
The text is attributed to Matanga or Matanga Muni or Matanga-Bharatha (as he is regarded one among the five-Pancha Bharathas: Nandikesvara, Kohla, Dattila, Bharatha and Matanga) takes a very important position between Bharatha (Ca.2nd century BCE) and Sarangadeva (Ca.13th century). It is surmised that Matanga perhaps lived during sixth or the seventh century.
The edition of Brihaddeshi, as it has come down to us, is an incomplete text. Only about five hundred of its verses are available. Those available verses and chapters deal only with Music; and, conclude with the remark that the next Chapter will deal with Musical instruments (Vadya). Sadly, that and subsequent Chapters, if any, are not available. However, some commentators of the later periods cite from Brihaddeshi the references pertaining to instruments, taala and dance.
In the available chapters, the first portion starts with the definition of Desi. The term Desi, here, refers to all art forms that are related to songs; and, in particular, it comprehends the three arts of Gita (song), Vadya (instruments) and Nŗtta (dance). One of Matanga’s major contributions is his scholarly focus on the regional element in music. The title Brhaddeshi (Brihat + Desi) , thus , stands for a masterly compilation of the music traditions of the various regions (Desha).
Next, the concept of Nada is described as the most subtle vibration , which is the basis for speech, music, dance and all other forms of activities. Then, the text goes on to discuss two Grama-s: Shadja-grama and Madhyama-grama. From these, Grama-s the music elements Sruti, Svara, Murchana, Tana, Jaati and Raga are derived.
Matanga deals with Grama, Murchana and Jaati, rather briefly. According to Matanga, twenty-one Murchana-s evolved from the three main Grama-s: Shadja, Madhyma and Gandharva. Murchana were of two kinds: one, having seven Svaras and the other having twelve Svaras (sa-Murcchana dvi-vidha; sapta-svara-Murchanat dvadasha-svara-Murchana cheti).
The Murchana with Seven Svaras was divided into four parts: Purna, Shadava, Audava, and Sadharana, The Purna contained seven Svaras (hexatone ) ; Shadava , six Svaras (heptatone ) ; Audava , five Svaras (pentatonic ) ; and, the Sadharana , two displaced (vikrita} Svaras i.e, antara-gandhara and kakali-nishada.
And, the Murchana with twelve Svaras manifest in three registers (Sthana): low, medium and high (Mandra, Madhya and Tara).
The text then discusses Sruti (silent intervals between Svaras), Svara intervals in the two Grama-s and other terms and concepts such as, Tana, Varna, Alamkara, Jaati, Gita and Raga. Various other aspects including the popular melodies of his time are given in the other chapters. As its name suggests, it is a huge work ;and, is also highly informative.
Following the steps of Bharatha, Matanga also recognized Shadja-grama and Madhyama-grama as two basic Grama-s (groups or clusters). From these Grama-s he derived Sruti, Svara, Murchana, Tana, Jaati and Raga. He says that the Aroha (ascending) and the Avaroha (descending) pattern of Svaras form the Murcchana of a Raga. The Murcchana, in effect, describes the string of notes which, with further embellishments (Alamkaras) of thirty-three varieties, constitutes the core of a Raga. These Alamkaras are indeed the musical excellences that adorn the songs.
After allotting a chapter to the Jaati-s, Matanga devotes a special chapter to the Ragas. Here, he deals with Grama-raga; and the Desi-ragas: Bhasa, Vibhasa and Antarabhasa. These Desi-ragas are again classified into four categories as : Raganga, Bhashanga, Kriyanga and Upanga.
Indeed, it is in this chapter of the Brhaddeshi we first come across the definition of Raga as given by Matanga. And , it is his definition that has guided all the later literature (lakshana grantha) on Classical Music. In the history of the Ragas, Brhaddeshi is, therefore, a landmark text.
The term Raga seemed to have been in use even prior to 7th century. But, it was not used in Music or in Music-theories in the way we know it and in the way use it now. It is, therefore, difficult to say that the concept of Raga as it is understood today, had fully evolved and was recognized as such in the period prior to Matanga ; say, at the time of Natyashastra ( second century BCE)
Which is to say; the notion of melodies that are created by artistic and ingenious arrangement of ascending and descending Svaras had been there for a very long time. But, it was a rather an amorphous concept; its structure had not been determined; and, was waiting to be defined in a clear language. This , precisely, is what Matanga did.
Matanga says :
The nature of the Raga system (Raga-margasya- lit. path) has not been explained by Bharatha and others (Bharathadi); and, it is going to be explained (Nirupayate) by us, according to the theory (lakshana) and also the practice (lakshya)– (279).
Raga-margasya vad rupam yannoktam Bharathadibhih I Nirupayate tasmad abhir lakshya –lakshana –samyuktam II
Then he goes on to explain: It is that particular quality or distinction of melodic-sound (dhwani-bhedaya) which is created by the combination or the arrangement of Svaras and Varnas (Svara-varna visheshena); and, that which delights (Ranjyate) is recognized by the wise as Raga.
Svara-varna visheshena dhwani-bhedaya va punah I Ranjyate yena yan kashichit sa ragah samsthatham II 280
Or (Athava), it is that particular sound which is adorned by Svara and Varna; and , that which delights the minds of the people is called Raga by the wise.
Athava – Yo asya dhwani vishesathu svara varna vibhushitaham Ranjako jana-chittanam sah ragah kathitho vidhuv II 281
[Following Matanga, Sarangadeva in his Sangeeta-ratnakara described Raga as: ranjayati itihi rāga- Raga is that which delights .]
After defining Raga, in two way: as that particular arrangement or ornamentation of Svara and movement of Varna (Svara-Varna vishesha ; vibhushitam ); and , as the distinction of melodic sounds (Dhwani-bhedana) which delight the minds of people (Ranjako jana-chittanam) , Matanga takes up the etymological explanation of the term Raga and its origin (Utpatthi).
Matanga says: this is how the word Raga is derived (Ithevam raga-shabdasya utpatthir abhidiyate). He explains through illustrations; saying that the word Asvakarna when it is derived from its root might literally mean the ears of a horse. But, in practice (rudi), Asvakarna is generally understood as the tree whose leaves resemble in shape the ears of a horse. Similarly, the word Pankaja literally means one that is born (ja) out of mud (panka). But, Pankaja in convention and common usage refers only to the lotus-flower.
In a like manner, he says, the word Raga has etymological as well as special conventional meaning like the word Pankaja. He explains: whatever might be its other meanings, the word Raga (derived from the root ranj = to please), effectively suggests, here, as that which generates delight: Ranjana-jjayate ragau.
Ithevam raga-shabdasya utpatthir abhidiyate I Ranjana-jjayate ragau utpatthih samudahrutah II 283 Ashva-karnadi vidha rude yaugikau vaapi vachakah I Yogarudosthva raage jneyam pankaja-shabdavat II 284
Along with defining Raga and explaining its concept, Matanga takes up the question of its identity. He says that the identity of Raga is conceived in two ways (dvivida matham): through its general (Samanya) classification; and, through its special characteristics (visheshacha lakshana). He mentions the general categories as four (Chatur vidha tu samanya); and, that the Raga’s special identity lies in Amsa and other features (vishesha cha Amshakadhikam).
Samanya cha visheshacha lakshana dvivida matham I Chatur vidha tu samanya vishesha cha Amshakadhikam II 282
As regards the four broad categories (Chatur vidha tu samanya) that Matanga mentioned, he, perhaps, was referring to Desi ragas that are classified into four categories as : Raganga, Bhashanga, Kriyanga and Upanga. These ragas are the basis for all musical forms presented in the later Samgita traditions and forms.
[But, during the later times, the connotation and interpretation of these terms underwent thorough revision. The Ragas came to be classified into Janaka and Janya. And, Janya ragas were further classified into : Sampurna — Varja; Krama- Vakra; Upanga — Bhashanga: Nishadantya, Dhaiva- tantya and Panchamantya. ]
During the time of Matanga, the Amsa was said to be the prominent or predominant Svara through which the Raga manifested (raga-janakatvad vyapakatvaccha Amsasya pradhanyam). And, the term Amsa and Vadi were used alternatively. Kallinatha in his commentary has said that both Amsa and Vadi were used to convey the idea of creating the pleasing sensations of the Ragas (Sa vadi tyogyatavashdt amsha syat rakti-vyanjakatvat).
Along with Amsa, nine other characteristics of Jaati (melodies) were listed in Natyashastra (28.74) as also in Dattilam (55) as : Graha, Amsa, Tara, Mandra, Sadava, Audavita, Aplatva, Bahutva, Apa-Nyasa and Nyasa.
In the explanations offered by Matanga, he mentions Svara, Varna and Alamkara etc.
According to Matanga, Svara is the sound which has a certain musical quality that creates melody. When the interval between the notes (Sruti) is raised or lowered, the musical quality gets altered
And, Varna refers to special note sequences, which indicate different kinds of movement. The function of Varna in a Raga is to manifest a song; and, it is, therefore, known as gana-kriya. The Varna-s are said to be of four kinds, depending on the movement of Svara. They indicate the general direction of the melodic line. When a note remains more or less at the same level it is called Sthayi-varna (stable); when the notes are ascending or descending these are known as Arohi and Avarohi. And, a mixture of the three is sanchari-varna, wandering, back-and-forth.
Natyashastra had earlier listed thirty-three types of Alamkaras. But, Dattila later abridged the list to thirteen. Matanga who followed Natyashastra reckoned thirty-three Alamkaras. However, in later times the list grew up to eighty-eight types of Alamkaras.
Matanga, in his Brhaddeshi, speaks about Gamakas. For in instance; while discussing about Raga-giti , one of the seven charming song-forms, he mentions that Raga-giti should be rendered with varied delicate Gamakas (lalithau–Gamakau-vichitrau); and, should be adorned with Svara pronunciations, lucid, powerful and even (300); and the Vibhasha–giti should be sung blending in the Gamakas that are pleasant on the ears (Gamakau–srotra-sukhadai-lalithairasthu) and are also delicate , according to the will of the singer (yadrucchaya samyojya) to the delight of the people (lokan-ranjathe)- (308).
One can appreciate the contribution of Matanga when you realize that with the advent of Raga changed the whole phase of Indian Music. With its coming, the ancient music-terms and concepts such as Jaati, Grama , Murchana etc no longer are relevant in the Music that is practiced since say, fourteenth century. Since then Raga has taken the center stage; and, it is the most important concept in music composition, music performances and even in music-listening.
The proliferation of Ragas led, in the South, to systematic ways of classifying or grouping them based on the technical traits of their scales (Svaras). Classification of Ragas plays a major role in Indian Music theories. Matanga’s work became the source-text for the musicologists of the later periods for developing Mela-karta (parent scale) system of classifying Music;
[Ref: Rāga-s in Bṛhaddēśī: English translation of the verses and the prose passages describing the Rāga-s, in the Bṛhaddēśī of Mataṅga by Dr. Hema Ramanathan; Brhaddasehi of Matanga by Dr. N. Ramanathan; A Brief Overview of the Evolution of Indian Music